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'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Challenges Stereotypes One Song At A Time

Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom, far left) moves from New York to California in pursuit of her ex (Vincent Rodriguez III, third from left) in the CW's <em>Crazy Ex-Girlfriend</em>. (Also pictured: Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner and David Hull)
Danny Feld
The CW
Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom, far left) moves from New York to California in pursuit of her ex (Vincent Rodriguez III, third from left) in the CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. (Also pictured: Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner and David Hull)

When 28-year-old comedian Rachel Bloom won a best actress Golden Globe this year for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the TV show she stars in and co-created, she told the crowd: "We almost didn't have a show. We made a pilot for another network and they rejected it. And we sent the pilot to every other network in Hollywood and we got six rejections in one day and we felt like crap. But we knew it was good."

Eventually, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend found a home at the CW, which premiered the show's first season last fall. The musical-comedy-drama follows a mess of a young woman named Rebecca Bunch. Rebecca is successful at work, but miserable at life. After a chance meeting with her ex-boyfriend from summer camp — that's right, summer camp — she ditches her high-paying New York job and moves across the country to his hometown of West Covina, Calif.

Bloom says, "The whole show is about [Rebecca] learning to pursue her own happiness."
Patrick Wymore / The CW
The CW
Bloom says, "The whole show is about [Rebecca] learning to pursue her own happiness."

Rebecca, played by Bloom, is at times unbalanced, adorable and satirical, but always in key. Bloom tells NPR's Audie Cornish about making a show that was designed to dismantle stereotypes.

Interview Highlights

On Rebecca's depression and anxiety

We always wanted the show to confront her mental illness head-on. The premise of the show is just a romantic comedy where it's like: Oh, a woman's unhappy; she's a lawyer and she moves to try to win back the man she loves. But if you look at the realism in that, it's like, OK, if someone actually did that, they would be a tremendously unhappy person. That is a not good thing to do. And so inherent in the premise of the show was Rebecca's depression and anxiety. And the whole show is about her learning to pursue her own happiness as opposed to trying to make other people happy.

On how everyone on the show is a little crazy

We try not to view anyone on this show from a lens of labeling them; we try to make sure that you understand where every character is coming from. But yes, Rebecca is a little crazy. And when she comes to West Covina, we realize that everyone else on the show is a little crazy, too. ...

There's a love triangle inherent in the show, and many people root for Rebecca and Greg, Josh's best friend. And I want to remind everyone that when Greg and Rebecca first meet, he says to her, "You're pretty and smart and ignoring me, so you're obviously my type." That's adorable. That's not a healthy thing to say to someone. ... It shows that he doesn't respect himself and it shows his own pathologies.

On the show's mission

The whole show is about deconstructing stereotypes and deconstructing people and finding the truth beneath tropes. And so that's why the title is so, kind of, provocative in that way. You know, using the label "crazy ex-girlfriend" and viewing it from a feminist perspective and how does one come to embody that? What does love do to your brain? When you let love take you over is it because you're using it as an escape from your real problems?

On "The Sexy Getting Ready Song"

This is from the pilot and Rebecca is about to go to this party where the object of her affection will be.

And I think there is this kind of fetishizing of ... a woman getting ready and she's primping and she's, you know, dusting a powder puff into powder and making herself smell pretty. And, no: Getting ready for a party is disgusting and frustrating and horrifying. And so ... the contrast between not only like beauty and ugliness, but how things are portrayed in pop culture and in pop music and how things really are was very much our guide for that song.

On how they decide when a character is going to burst into song

There's an old saying when writing musical theater: ... When the emotion is too strong for the characters to talk, they sing. And then when it's too strong to sing, they dance. So that's our guide: What are the strongest emotional moments in the episode? And we use that to determine when we'll break into a musical number. And the other thing was the kind of emotional ups and downs of love are perfect for a musical.

On whether the show will be renewed for a second season

Oh, gosh, you tell me. We're hopeful. We're still waiting on it. We're hoping for good news, but, you know, it's something that's so out of our control — the same thing with ratings, the same thing with awards. All we can do is make the show we want and make it until someone tells us to stop.

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